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Tuesday, 15 February 2011

The lousy Hamas government

I have written before on how Hamas represses, wherever possible, the population of Gaza.

The latter post, citing as it does an important article by Haidar Eid, an Associate Professor at Gaza's Al Aqsa University is particularly important.

I was e-mailed today by someone who was previously unknown to me, one Nahida. Nahida confined her argument to the Subject line: ' Would you please get your facts right and stop spreading zionist propaganda poison and lies against the Palestinian Resistance'. Although clearly an Islamist, her argument belongs in what we used to call the Stalinist School of Falsification. 70 years ago, if you criticised Stalinism you were supporting imperialism. Today if you criticise Hamas you are criticising the Palestinian struggle, as if the resistance is embodied in an Islamic movement that is both incoherent politically and inarticulate.

She cites the demonstrations in Gaza as some kind of proof that Hamas therefore supported the Revolution in Egypt. I have no doubt that youths and others in Gaza supported and took part in demonstrations against Mubarak and in support of the Egyptian revolution but that doesn't mean Hamas was responsible for, or supported, those demonstrations.

It is a fact that the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, of which Hamas is essentially the Gazan wing, did not support the Egyptian protests for the first few days and was cautious afterwards. This is consistent with its historical record of being a very conservative and reactionary political formation and one which has always been cautious about supporting mass movements.

The people of Gaza and Hamas are of course not one and the same. Hamas did try to stop demonstrations against Mubarak but found it impossible to maintain such a stance, in view of the siege of Gaza by Egypt. But according to Nahida's 'logic' maybe the blogger Angry Arab is also a Zionist when he posted the following on Tuesday, February 01 2011:

The lousy Hamas government in Gaza yesterday stopped Palestinians in Gaza from demonstrating in support of the Egyptian people's uprising. They even apprehended the protesters for a few hours. So the Palestinian people now live under double oppression: that of Israeli occupation, and that of Fatah in West Bank and Hamas in Gaza.

Another argument of Nahida is that Ha'aretz is a Zionist paper. But of course it is irrelevant whether or not Haaretz is a Zionist paper or not. There is no Zionist interest in showing that Hamas is also opposed, alongside the Israeli government, to democracy in the Arab world. In fact Israeli and western propaganda has been designed to show that Islamic fundamentalism is behind the protests. This is the argument of the US neo-cons and anyone who saw the interview of John Bolton, the Bush assistant Secretary of State last week.

But of course Islamic fundamentalists are not democrats since the word of god is not open to debate or question. Haaretz is also Israel’s only liberal Zionist paper and as such has printed many articles that anti-Zionists and supporters of the Palestinians have used. Indeed Zionists regularly complain about Haaretz’s failure to be a propaganda sheet. Neither Amira Hass and Gideon Levy are Zionists and I know that Amira Hass, who lived in Gaza, is very critical of the authoritarianism of Hamas, as I’m sure is Gideon Levy.

But let's see what Haidar Eid, who no-one can accuse of being a 'Zionist' said in Tough Questions for Hamas of 2 November 2010:

'Despite its somewhat fiery statements, Hamas's impulse and willingness to deal with American propositions are indeed astonishing. Two letters were sent, as far as I know, to the new Obama administration after the term of former US President George W. Bush ended. The Americans emphasized that they declined to accept the first letter. However, it is the content of the letters and how they reflect the aspirations of Palestinians -- both in all of historic Palestine as well as in the Diaspora -- that is significant.

The content of these letters along with statements made by senior Hamas leaders indicate to the US Hamas's acceptance of and commitment to the two-state solution; i.e. the creation of an independent Palestinian state on the territories occupied by Israel in 1967. Yet many Hamas leaders simultaneously accentuate their refusal to recognize the State of Israel and accept the two-state solution! Simply put, the Palestinian leadership elected by the majority of one-third of the Palestinian people, i.e. the population in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, is announcing its commitment to a racist solution that disregards the rights of 6-7 million Palestinian refugees, and the national and cultural rights of 1.4 million Palestinians in Israel....

Hamas's success in the 2006 elections was due mainly to the fact that the Palestinian national movement failed to accomplish its declared goals, abandoned the "interim program" and accepted an exceptionally racist solution that denies internationally legitimated historical rights. However, Hamas's acceptance of the two-state solution, or a Palestinian state within the 1967 borders as it is often called, is not at odds politically with either the left or right wing of the national movement.

But what does this state look like? And does Hamas have an alternative to the two-state, or two-prison, solution which has become impossible to achieve?

The experience of Hamas rule in the Gaza Strip offers a miniature model of an Islamic state, whereas the West Bank stands as the Bantustan state to be declared in November 2011. It is common knowledge that Gaza has recently undergone ideological social transformations through laws that are enforced without being enacted. Such laws target individual freedoms, particularly those of women, who are no longer allowed to smoke water pipe in public or ride behind their spouses on motorcycles. Likewise, female students are now forced to wear the jilbab and the hijab, while female lawyers must wear the hijab. Of course, these practices claim to "protect our customs and traditions," but is there a traditional text that bars women from smoking, for instance? The democracy that provided the foundation for the 2006 elections is based on guaranteeing individual freedoms. Many statements made by Hamas leaders inside and outside of Gaza before the elections emphasized that those leaders would respect such freedoms if elected.

The transformation of many members of the resistance, who are willing to sacrifice their lives for their homeland and who exerted impressive efforts to defend Gaza in 2009, into religious police like those in Saudi Arabia requires a serious and critical revision by Hamas.

Therefore, it is obvious that Hamas is unable to realize that the war on Gaza in 2009 has created a new political reality whereby Israel pulled the trigger on the racist two-state/two-prison solution. Hamas insists on adopting this approach and claims it is a temporary tactic until the balance of power shifts, as the movement assumes it will within the truce period of ten or twenty years. During this time, it plans to build a state after its model in Gaza. This only indicates the lack of a clear strategic vision to end the conflict, a vision that draws on past global struggles against colonialism, particularly against the abhorrent South African apartheid regime, which collapsed resoundingly in 1994.

Unfortunately, there has been no indication, based on my reading of many statements made by Hamas leaders, of a clear understanding within the movement either of the apartheid nature of the State of Israel or of the tools used by the South African anti-apartheid movement. One such tool is the international boycott campaign, without which the apartheid regime would not have ended. This demonstrates Hamas's failure to understand the role of the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement (BDS). As a recent report by the Israel-based Reut Institute indicates, even the Israelis themselves are concerned about the momentum the BDS movement is gaining. There is no statement whatsoever, either in public speeches of Hamas officials or in its literature, which indicates an understanding of these efforts which, as Reut claimed, served to "delegitimize Israel" and "pose a threat to its very existence."

Hamas is politically reactionary in many ways. But for the Israeli/Egyptian siege it would have stepped up its own repression of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. It has made efforts to force women to wear the veil, it has attacked supporters of the PFLP and it has been guilty of torture and ill-treatment of prisoners. I support the liberation of Palestine not the substitution of one form of oppression for another. I support Hamas when it confronts Israel, not when it confronts its own people.

Nahida's argument is similar to those who say that because Iran is under threat by US imperialism we should therefore not support pro-democracy protestors. On the contrary I say that the best way to defeat imperialism is the maximum democracy in the Arab world and Iran.

Hamas is politically illiterate. It says it wants one Arab/Muslim state in Palestine and also says in private that it would accept 2 states as a solution. It cites as authentic the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, an anti-Semitic forgery of the Czarist secret police, which was the bible of anti-Jewish racists in Europe. Anti-semitism i.e. anti-Jewish racism in Europe directly led to the creation of the Zionist movement with all the consequences we know. The creation of the Israeli state, a state based on racial exclusivism and separation, was Hitler’s final achievement. To give any support to anti-Semitism is effectively to support those who were themselves responsible for the expulsion and dispossession of the Palestinians.

I should add that the demand for an Islamic or Arab state in Palestine does not take any account of non-Arabs including Israeli Jews. In short it is no solution and the idea that a religious sectarian movement can represent Palestinians who are not just followers of Islam but contain for example Christians, illustrates the problems of supporting uncritically such a group.

Rather than employing a well reasoned argument, something which is of course impossible, especially for a supporter of Political Islam, Nahida uses this ‘guilt by association’ technique which calls Haaretz ‘Zionist’ as a means of avoiding the fact that Hamas did try to prevent demonstrations in Gaza.

Tony Greenstein

From: nahida [mailto:nahidayasin@]
Sent: 15 February 2011 09:59
To: tony greenstein
Subject: Would you please get your facts right and stop spreading zionist propaganda poison and lies against the Palestinian Resistance

The Egyptian Counter-Revolution Has Begun as Hamas and the PA Support Mubarak

Hamas Shows Its True Colours (says Tony)

Hamas blocks Egypt solidarity demonstrations in Gaza, says rights group (says zionist haaretz)
FYI: We have watched the supportive demonstrations in Gaza LIVE

Gaza youths celebrate Egypt revolution

Yousef al-Helou, Press TV, Gaza

Thousands of students and youths held demonstrations in Gaza city, carrying Egyptian and Palestinian flags as well as banners praising the Egyptian revolution which led to the resignation of President Hosni Mubarak following 18 consecutive days of mass protests across Egypt.

The joyful protestors who gathered at the courtyard of the Palestinian legislative council said they came out to celebrate and express solidarity with the Egyptians.
Meanwhile, hundreds of women and female students also gathered at Palestine square in downtown Gaza to send a message of support to the Egyptian protestors in Cairo's Liberation square who were finally successful in ousting President Mubarak after 30 years of autocratic rule.

Emotions are strong among Gazans who would like to see a new government in Egypt that will break the ongoing Israeli siege by opening the Rafah border in order to allow aid convoys and supplies to reach Gaza without Israeli interference.

The will of the Egyptian people proved to be stronger than dictators and tyrannical rulers. However, with Gaza's only terminal to the outside world still closed, activists have started a campaign calling for the opening of the Rafah gate to liberate Gazans.


Anonymous said...

hi tony

I was recently introduced to your blog and have enjoyed reading it but I have been struggling to work out would solution you support???

Tony Greenstein said...

There is only one solution and that is a unitary and democratic, secular state in Palestine where all the inhabitants live without distinction or discrimination, Israeli Jews and Palestinian Arabs and whoever else.

Erez said...

More honest than usual, TG,
You only forgot to mention Hamas's minor crimes against Israelis, Palestinians and Humanity:
thousands of Missiles against civil population; incitement for genocide, murder of more than 60 Fatah members DURING "cast lead" operation; military takeover of GAZA while killing many other PLA officials, denying food and medical aid from Gaza population while keeping the Humanitarian aid shipments for its own supporters.
somehow, legalities of this illegal regime seems to pale next to is ACTS OF TERROR, or did You miss that ????

How come did the Elections on 2006 entered your post, while the militant usurption of 2007 did not ?

AS for Egypt, taking down a regime and build another are totally different processes. While achiving symbolical and economical achivments, that 'revolution' won't replace the military sect that rules Egypt since the 50's, but might lead to enough democratic atmosphere to support that phaze in the future.

As an Israeli, democratic change is good for everyone in the area, except Hamas. Egypt will be able to deal with it, PLA and Israel, with all of their flaws, would benefit from it in the long run for sure. Hamas (like other dictatorships in the Arab world) is the only regime in Eretz-Israel that democratic change endangers.

In Israel, the demonstrations in Egypt already pressure (just a bit, at the moment) the prime minister to lower indirect taxation, meaning water and gas prices.

in the PLA, elections for municipalities in on the agenda, and other developments would come

Tony Greenstein said...

The usual Zionist ramble. What is interesting is that Hamas and the Israeli State and its surrogate in the Palestinian Authority are at one in having opposed the overthrow of Mubarak. Admittedly Hamas's opposition was tentative, like that of the Egyptian Brotherhood, because it feared the consequences if Mubarak survived and took revenge on Gaza.

Erez asks how the elections of 2006were mentioned whilst the 2007 coming to power of Hamas did not. The answer is simple. The people elected Hamas in 2006 and when, in 2006 they foiled an israeli/US/Egyptian coup and took power against the appalling Dahlan, they did no more than fulfill their democratic mandate.

But for Erez to weep crocodile tears over the deaths of 60 Fateh thugs in Gaza when Israel committed an act of genodical barbarity in 2008/9 when it murdered 1,400 Gazans, including 400, children takes the biscuit

Mind, Hitler waxed lyrical on the 'oppression' of the Sudeten Germans in Czechoslovakia and the treatment of 'ethnic' Germans in Poland, 5,000 of whom actually were killed in the wake of the invasion, so why should Erez not follow in Hitler's footsteps?

But the idiot Erez calls Hamas a dictatorship, despite being elected, and the PA which has no support whatsoever and has deliberately refused to have elections is 'democratic'. Mind Jo Biden, the US Vice President, also described Mubarak as not a dictator so clearly idiots think alike (or don't think).

I criticise Hamas because it's repressive not because it wasn't elected according to bourgeois norms